by Tolu Orekoya
370,000 jobs added to the economy by the government (all of them paying ones) sounds like an exciting prospect until you realise that the workers are being hired at lower than the minimum wage set by the Federal Government (FG) itself.
On Monday, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced the FG’s bid to make a dent in the appalling employment numbers of the country while launching the Federal Government Community Service Scheme in Yola, as part of the trunkated Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SuRE-P).
SuRE-P was hastily introduced by the government earlier this year in response to widespread protests against the fuel subsidy removal that occurred on January 1, 2012. At the time, it was promised that the subsidy funds would be directly injected into the economy through the SuRE-P program. As there was only a partial removal, only some of the funds originally earmarked were made available in the budget.
The good news for young Nigerians is that the 370,000 is to inject jobs into the economy targeted at women and young, working age Nigerians.
“The programme is designed by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to create employment opportunities for up to 370, 000 women and youths yearly in the 37 states of the federation and the FCT, towards improving socio-economic infrastructure.
“To reduce the vulnerability of unskilled women and youths through exposure to income generating opportunities and to create good value systems in women and youths, through pre-engagement orientation sessions, ” Okonjo-Iweala said.
In the course of her speech, Okonjo-Iweala compared Nigeria’s unemployment rate for young people against other countries, and while still high, was still lower than other struggling European countries, or even economical rival, South Africa. She said, “Youth unemployment is now a global problem as well as a big issue, but for us, we have to look carefully on how to tackle this problem.
“For example, in South Africa and Spain the rate of unemployment is now over 50 per cent each, while in Nigeria, the rate of unemployment is about 47 per cent.”
The jobs will be divided equally among the 36 states and the FCT, with each territory getting 10,000 workers. However the workers would only receive N10,000 a month, well below the FG minimum wage of N18,000 which was declared last year.
The wages may also be announcing that the jobs are primarily low-skill and menial in nature but Okonjo-Iweala said that the scheme had three components, including community services, graduate internship and vocational skills training according to Vanguard.